What is a Speech-Language Pathologist
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), according to the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, are professionals who hold the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), which requires a master’s, doctoral, or other recognized post baccalaureate degree. ASHA-certified SLPs complete a supervised postgraduate professional experience and pass a national examination. They can work in a variety of settings such as a clinic, hospital, and school. They have training in all facets of language and communication. In order to work in a school setting, in most states, they are required to have a teaching certification in speech and language on top of their ASHA certification and state licensure.
What qualifies a student to receive speech and language services in a school setting?
- The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act provides speech-language services for school-age children with communication disorders that adversely affect children’s educational performance
- SLPs work with school children who have communication problems that affect success in classroom activities, social interaction, literacy, learning, and life!
- Speech and language disorders can be associated with hearing loss, Cleft Palate, Cerebral Palsy and other motor problems, Learning Disabilities, Autism, Developmental Delays, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and other problems.
What Is A Speech-Language Pathologist and How Can I Work With One In A School Setting?
If you are a teacher, than you might have some questions about working with an SLP. If you have a student in your class that gets speech services, what can you do to help that student succeed? If you have a student in your class that you suspect might need speech services, who do you talk to get those services? Why do they get services? Who is the person making that judgement call and working with those students? How can you work with that professional to meet the needs of your students?
SLPs Work With Children In a Variety of Ways
SLPs often combine communication goals with academic and social goals:
- Integrate classroom objectives
- Help students understand and use basic language concepts
- Support reading and writing
- Increase students’ understanding of texts and lessons
Common Goals Addressed in Speech Sessions In A School Setting
- Identifying and expressing main ideas
- Responding to questions based on auditory information
- Understanding vocabulary through categorization and associations (making connections using synonyms, opposites, parts of speech, etc.)
- Making sure students hear grammatical endings and all sounds in words
Sample Strategies Taught In Speech
- Using graphic organizers to help recall auditory information
- Listening for key words and auditory memory strategies (teachers putting a stress on words)
- Sentence structure for verbal and written expression (POQ)
- Chunking information together in groups to help students remember and understand (categorization and associations)
- Use synonyms when students cannot think of the word
What is the demand for SLPs in the schools?
As the curriculum gets more challenging and as we mainstream more students with special needs in the public school setting, we find that the need for SLPs in the school continues to increase. SLPs work with students in general education classrooms, resource room classrooms, inclusion classrooms, self-contained classrooms, and life skills classrooms. Speech and language services are often the one that is identified first since it is hard to classify a student at a young age with a learning disability. Their inability or difficulty to communicate is what teachers and parents often notice first.
How do SLPs work with general education teachers?
- We work with teachers to help you determine if a student in your class can benefit from or warrant speech services. We provide you in-class strategies through a Response to Intervention model to determine if more restrictive and more intensive interventions are necessary.
- We may work with your students in a pull out setting, removing the student from the classroom to work one-on-one. We may piggyback off what you are working on in the classroom while addressing language and communication goals.
- We may work with your students in a push-in model. We may come into your classroom and work with that student while you are teaching to ensure they are using their strategies. We may plan lessons with you to make sure students are getting language-rich experiences and students that need speech and language services are getting the assistance and modifications they need. We may model how we use scaffolding or visual aids to help our students succeed.
What should general education teachers know for teaching students with speech and language delays in an inclusive classroom?
- Teach new vocabulary words with visual aids and provide multiple opportunities to learn and comprehend them
- Break directions down into smaller pieces
- Present information orally and visually, show pictures when possible
- Break reading/listening into parts and check for understanding (stop and ask questions to encourage recall)
- Encourage student to ask for repetition or clarification when necessary
- If the answer is not in the story, students should be encouraged to use clues and own knowledge to answer question
- Restate students’ responses with correct grammatical endings or sound productions
- Put stress on information student should be focusing on while reading or teaching new classroom content
Together, SLPs and teachers can work to benefit our students. We all have the same ultimate goal — that our students succeed. Don’t hesitate to ask your SLP questions if you are unsure why a student is or is not receiving services.
Hallie Sherman, M.S. CCC-SLP is a licensed speech-language pathologist from New York and the author of the blog, Speech Time Fun. She loves finding and creating creative, quick, and fun ways to keep speech students motivated and shares them on her blog, Instagram, and Facebook page.